The internet.org initiative for the next 5 billion people is even a bigger announcement than the Steve Ballmer’s retirement from Microsoft announcement given The Upcoming Mobile Internet Superpower [Aug 13, 2013, with extensive follow-up & ‘The global forces behind …’ analysis, later in the post, as of August 22 at 9:08pm] and the substantial global financial interests (uncovered there and) otherwise also tied to the creation of the whole global Facebook phenomenon (also indicating that Mark Zuckerberg has been just a strawman of something significantly bigger going on behind the scenes from the very beginning). Just two images which were included into the The Upcoming Mobile Internet Superpower as a reminder of that (before documenting the internet.org initiative in this post):
While the true intent of this announcement is covered by things described above, here is what was officially told to the world:
Technology leaders launch partnership to make internet access available to all [joint press release available from http://internet.org/ and number of other sources, Aug 20, 2013]
Facebook, Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm, Samsung to be founding partners
MENLO PARK, Calif., Aug. 20, 2013 – Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, today announced the launch of internet.org, a global partnership with the goal of making internet access available to the next 5 billion people.
“Everything Facebook has done has been about giving all people around the world the power to connect,” Zuckerberg said. “There are huge barriers in developing countries to connecting and joining the knowledge economy. Internet.org brings together a global partnership that will work to overcome these challenges, including making internet access available to those who cannot currently afford it.”
Today, only 2.7 billion people – just over one-third of the world’s population – have access to the internet. Internet adoption is growing by less than 9 percent each year, which is slow considering how early we are in its development.
The goal of Internet.org is to make internet access available to the two-thirds of the world who are not yet connected and to bring the same opportunities to everyone that the connected third of the world has today.
The founding members of Internet.org –Facebook, Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm and Samsung – will develop joint projects, share knowledge, and mobilize industry and governments to bring the world online. These founding companies have a long history of working closely with mobile operators and expect them to play leading roles within the initiative, which over time will also include NGOs, academics and experts as well. Internet.org is influenced by the successful Open Compute Project, an industry-wide initiative that has lowered the costs of cloud computing by making hardware designs more efficient and innovative.
In order to achieve its goal of connecting the two-thirds of the world who are not yet online, Internet.org will focus on three key challenges in developing countries:
Making access affordable: Partners will collaborate to develop and adopt technologies that make mobile connectivity more affordable and decrease the cost of delivering data to people worldwide. Potential projects include collaborations to develop lower-cost, higher-quality smartphones and partnerships to more broadly deploy internet access in underserved communities. Mobile operators will play a central role in this effort by driving initiatives that benefit the entire ecosystem.
Using data more efficiently: Partners will invest in tools that dramatically reduce the amount of data required to use most apps and internet experiences. Potential projects include developing data compression tools, enhancing network capabilities to more efficiently handle data, building systems to cache data efficiently and creating frameworks for apps to reduce data usage.
Helping businesses drive access: Partners will support development of sustainable new business models and services that make it easier for people to access the internet. This includes testing new models that align incentives for mobile operators, device manufacturers, developers and other businesses to provide more affordable access than has previously been possible. Other efforts will focus on localizing services – working with operating system providers and other partners to enable more languages on mobile devices.
By reducing the cost and amount of data required for most apps and enabling new business models, Internet.org is focused on enabling the next 5 billion people to come online.
Facebook, Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm, Samsung and other partners will build on existing partnerships while exploring new ways to collaborate to solve these problems.
“For more than 100 years, Ericsson has been enabling communications for all and today more than 6 billion people in the world have access to mobile communications,” said Hans Vestberg, President and CEO of Ericsson. “We are committed to shaping the Networked Society – where everyone and everything will be connected in real time; creating the freedom, empowerment and opportunity to transform society. We believe affordable connectivity and internet access improves people’s lives and helps build a more sustainable planet and therefore we are excited to participate in the Internet.org initiative.”
“As a world leader in mobile solutions for emerging markets having powered more than 300 million smart devices within 2 years, MediaTek whole heartedly supports the Internet.org initiative,” said MK Tsai, Chairman of MediaTek. “Global internet and social media access represent the biggest shift since the industrial revolution, and we want to make it all-inclusive.”
“Nokia is deeply passionate about connecting people – to one another and the world around them,” said Nokia President and CEO Stephen Elop. “Over the years, Nokia has connected well over a billion people. Our industry is now at an exciting inflection point where internet connectivity is becoming more affordable and efficient for consumers while still offering them great experiences. Universal internet access will be the next great industrial revolution.”
“Today, more than 300 million people use Opera every month to access the internet. Tomorrow, we have a chance to serve the next 5 billion people connecting on mobile devices in developing countries. It’s in Opera’s DNA to save people time, money and data, and through Internet.org we think we can help advance these goals,” said Lars Boilesen, CEO Opera Software.
“Mobile has helped to transform many people’s lives in the emerging regions where often a computing device will be the first and only mobile experience they’ll ever have” said Paul Jacobs, chairman of the board and CEO of Qualcomm Incorporated. “Having shipped more than 11 billion chips, Qualcomm is a market leader that is committed to the goal of bridging the digital divide. We’re pleased to be a part of Internet.org and to be working with key ecosystem players to drive this initiative forward.”
“This new initiative has big potential to help accelerate access to the internet for everyone,” said JK Shin, CEO and President of the IT & Mobile Communications Division at Samsung Electronics. “We’re focused on delivering high quality mobile devices to ensure that the next five billion people have great mobile internet experiences.”
The Internet.org website launches today and provides an overview of the mission and goals, as well as a full list of the partners. In the coming weeks, it will feature interviews with technology leaders and experts, along with the latest news on Internet.org activities.
The embedded video on the internet.org site explains further: Mark Zuckerberg aims to put the entire world online [CNN YouTube channel, Aug 21, 2013]
adding more fuel to the campaign, as two follow-up videos on CNN channel as well:
– Zuckerberg, tech companies look for “next 5 billion… [CNN YouTube channel, Aug 21, 2013]
– Mark Zuckerberg’s Internet plan: realistic or impossible? [CNN YouTube channel, Aug 22, 2013]
And the leading global media was awash with extensive coverage of this as evidenced here just with the following videos:
– Mark Zuckerberg’s World-Wide Plan for the Internet [Bloomberg YouTube channel, Aug 21, 2013]
– Mark Zuckerberg Announces Plan To Get Billions More People Online [HuffPost Live YouTube channel, Aug 21, 2013]
– Facebook-led project pushes for wider internet access – corporate [Euronews YouTube channel, Aug 22, 2013]
– Chinese manufacturing grows and Facebook wants to spread the internet worldwide [FRANCE 24 English YouTube channel, Aug 22, 2013]
From the participant companies we had the following corporate communications in addition to the joint press release:
The Networked Society will bring significant economic, social and environmental benefits to hundreds of millions of people, one of which is providing internet access to the remaining two-thirds of the planet. Today (Aug 21, 2013), Ericsson, Facebook and a number of other tech giants took a step closer to realizing these benefits through the announcement of a global initiative we call Internet.org. Through this, we aim to reduce the cost of delivering basic internet services and make them available to everyone, everywhere.
So, why is this initiative so important? In the Networked Society, connectivity is the starting point for new ways of innovating, collaborating and socializing. It’s about creating freedom, empowerment and opportunity, transforming industries and society while helping find solutions to some of the greatest challenges facing our planet.
Hans Vestberg, President and CEO of Ericsson, says: “For more than 100 years, Ericsson has been enabling communications for all, and today more than 6 billion people have access to mobile communications. We are committed to shaping the Networked Society – where everyone and everything will be connected in real time; creating the freedom, empowerment and opportunity to transform society. We believe affordable connectivity and internet access improves people’s lives and helps build a more sustainable planet, and therefore we are excited to participate in the Internet.org initiative.”
Some of the initial areas that are considered barriers to increasing access to the internet are the cost of smartphones, the cost of delivering data, and inefficient data-hungry applications. Cheaper phones, improved data compression techniques, and apps that use less data and reduce battery usage are some of the initial areas of investigation. Others include more efficient allocation of spectrum, edge caching, sharing hardware design, and efficiency optimization.
Ericsson has several areas of expertise to offer the initiative, including: knowledge of scale, its global presence and local expertise, and its technology leadership in the area of mobile networks and supporting service enablers.
Ericsson believes that communication is a basic human need, and fulfilling this has been our mission since the foundation of our company.
Opera helps connect the next 5 billion online [Opera News, Aug 21, 2013]
Today, only 2.7 billion people are connected to the internet. The cost of getting online is one of the biggest challenges for users worldwide. We want to help get the next five billion online.
For the last 17 years, we have built products and services to get people online. We believe in the power of sharing ideas. Opera Mini is our mobile browser that uses compression technology to save you time and money. Operators around the world have embraced Opera Mini and Opera Web Pass as the best choice for their users to get online.
WE HAVE PARTNERED WITH FACEBOOK TO GET THE NEXT 5 BILLION ONLINE
Meet Internet.org – a partnership between Facebook, Opera, and other technology companies. This is a global effort that will also involve help from local communities, non-profit organisations and experts across the world. We are proud to contribute to the project with our competence in Internet technology.
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU
Are you among the few in your country who has access to the internet? Tell us how you spend your time online. How has the internet helped you? We’d love to hear from you. Get in touch with us on Twitter, Facebook or byemail.
Tomorrow, we have a chance to serve the next 5 billion people connecting on mobile devices in developing countries. It’s in Opera’s DNA to save people time, money and data, and through internet.org we think we can help advance these goals.”
— Lars Boilesen, CEO Opera Software.
Further information about the other companies’ involvement you can find in the following article also linked on the internet.org homepage:
Facebook Leads an Effort to Lower Barriers to Internet Access [The New York Times, Aug 20, 2013]
MENLO PARK, Calif. — About one of every seven people in the world uses Facebook. Now, Mark Zuckerberg, its co-founder and chief executive, wants to make a play for the rest — including the four billion or so who lack Internet access.
On Wednesday, Facebook announced an effort aimed at drastically cutting the cost of delivering basic Internet services on mobile phones, particularly in developing countries, where Facebook and other tech companies need to find new users. Half a dozen of the world’s tech giants, including Samsung, Nokia, Qualcomm and Ericsson, have agreed to work with the company as partners on the initiative, which they call Internet.org.
The companies intend to accomplish their goal in part by simplifying phone applications so they run more efficiently and by improving the components of phones and networks so that they transmit more data while using less battery power.
For Mr. Zuckerberg, the formation of the coalition is yet another way in which he is trying to position himself as an industry leader. He has been speaking out more forcefully than other tech executives on topics like immigration overhaul, which the industry sees as critical to its hiring needs. With Internet.org, he is laying out a philosophy that tries to pair humanitarian goals with the profit motive.
“The Internet is such an important thing for driving humanity forward, but it’s not going to build itself,” he said in a recent interview. “Ultimately, this has to make business sense on some time frame that people can get behind.”
But the effort is also a reflection of how tech companies are trying to meet Wall Street’s demands for growth by attracting customers beyond saturated markets in the United States and Europe, even if they have to help build services and some of the infrastructure in poorer, less digitally sophisticated parts of the world.
Google, for example, began a program with phone carriers last year that offers wireless users in some developing countries free access to Gmail, search and the first page clicked through from a search’s results. Google is also reaching for the sky with Project Loon, an attempt to beam Internet access down to earth from plastic balloons floating more than 11 miles in the atmosphere.
Twitter, which is preparing to offer shares to the public in an initial stock offering, has struck its own deals with about 250 cellphone companies in more than 100 countries to offer some free Twitter access, and worked to make sure its service is easy to use on even the cheapest cellphones.
These companies have little choice but to look overseas for growth. More than half of Americans already use Facebook at least once a month, for instance, and usage in the rest of the developed world is similarly heavy. There is nearly one active cellphone for every person on earth, making expansion a challenge for carriers and phone makers.
Poorer countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America present the biggest opportunity to reach new customers — if companies can figure out how to get people there online at low cost.
The immediate goals of the new coalition are to cut the cost of providing mobile Internet services to 1 percent of its current level within five to 10 years by improving the efficiency of Internet networks and mobile phone software. The group also hopes to develop new business models that would allow phone companies to provide simple services like e-mail, search and social networks for little or no charge.
While that sounds far less exciting than, say, Google’s idea of delivering the Internet by balloon, Mr. Zuckerberg says small efforts can add up to big changes.
“No one company can really do this by itself,” he said.
Facebook is already working on techniques to reduce the average amount of data used by its Android mobile app from the current 12 megabytes a day to 1 megabyte without users noticing.
Qualcomm, whose chip technology is prevalent in advanced cellphones, has created new designs to stretch a phone’s battery life, slice the amount of data needed to transmit a video and extend the reach of mobile networks through tiny devices similar to Wi-Fi routers.
The coalition partners have also begun trying new ways of reducing the data charges paid by cellphone customers while still enabling phone makers and carriers to make money.
For example, Nokia, the Finnish cellphone maker, ran a recent experiment with Facebook and the Mexican phone carrier Telcel, in which it bundled free Facebook access with some of its Asha feature phones. Sales rose significantly, and the company decided to run similar promotions for customers of Bharti Airtel, a mobile carrier in India and Africa.
[Note that with new Nokia Asha platform, which is a full platform enhancement of the earlier Asha Touch upgrade of the legacy S40 platform, Nokia has done already the most among the internet.org founding members to achieve the now declared common challenges of Making access affordable, Using data more efficiently and Helping businesses drive access. You can check that by reading the posts behind the indicated tags on this blog.]
However, the Internet.org team does not plan to tackle some thorny infrastructure issues that are huge barriers in the developing world, particularly the long-distance transmission of data to far-flung places.
Michuki Mwangi, regional development manager for Africa at the Internet Society, a nonprofit group that has long worked to expand global Internet access, said the continent sorely lacked local interconnection points, forcing most requests for content like YouTube videos to be routed through Europe at high cost. Creating more connection points would require navigating a thicket of government interests and powerful incumbents. But at the very least, the group would like Facebook and Google to put copies of their content on a greater number of African servers to deliver it more quickly and cheaply, something that both companies say they are considering.
As with the Open Compute coalition started by Facebook in 2011 to improve the efficiency of data centers, Facebook will seek to add other partners to Internet.org, including national governments, wireless phone carriers and Microsoft, a longtime Facebook ally that has its own projects to expand access.
But Google — whose search and YouTube video products are as fundamental as Facebook’s social network to many Internet users — is likely to remain outside the group.
For one, its own efforts to expand Internet access are aggressive. In addition, the company is constantly refining its Android software, which runs the majority of new smartphones sold, to improve efficiency and battery life.
“We’re always making investments in technology and programs to help people get online,” said Courtney Hohne, a Google spokeswoman. “We have teams around the world working on products tailored to local needs.”
Bill Gates, the chairman of Microsoft and co-chairman of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, recently suggested that Project Loon and similar projects were not the best use of resources to help people in the poorest nations.
“When a kid gets diarrhea, no, there’s no Web site that relieves that,” he said in a recent interview with Bloomberg Businessweek.
Mr. Zuckerberg acknowledged that basic health care is essential, but said that “if you can afford a phone, I think it would be really good for you to have access to the Internet.”
The potential is already obvious in places like the Philippines, where the second-largest mobile phone company, Globe Telecom, has used free Twitter, Facebook or Google access as promotions to increase the number of its 37 million users who also subscribe to a mobile data plan to 20 percent from virtually zero in two years.
“Once you’re connected, you’re connected, and you don’t want to look back,” said Peter Bithos, Globe’s senior adviser for consumer business.
For Facebook, which generates most of its revenue from selling advertising that it shows to its users, the immediate profits from expanding Internet access will be minimal, Mr. Zuckerberg said, although he acknowledged that the long-term potential was there.
“We’re focused on it more because we think it’s something good for the world,” he said, “rather than something that is going to be really amazing for our profits.”